Letter to JMU Community from President Alger

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Dear JMU community,

After serving for 12 years as president of James Madison University, it is with a true mix of emotions that I share the news today that I have accepted an offer to become president of American University in Washington, D.C., in July 2024. I have been deeply honored to work with all of you at this amazing institution. For professional and personal reasons, Mary Ann and I believe that this is the right time for us to embark together on one more new chapter of our higher education journey. 

Collectively, we have accomplished a great deal at JMU with all of you. The university is better and stronger than ever. We have transitioned into a true national research university and are no longer “the best kept secret” in American higher education. Applications and enrollments continue to break records as the institution’s national reputation has spread. Under the auspices of our first-rate faculty, our academic programs have been expanded and enhanced to meet the rapidly evolving demands of the 21st century. We have realized the bold vision we set forth shortly after I arrived to become “the national model of the engaged university: engaged with ideas and with the world,” and have become a national leader in the areas of engaged learning, community engagement and civic engagement.

JMU is a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming campus than ever before, and will continue to strive to open its doors to individuals from all backgrounds. We successfully planned and executed the ambitious Unleashed comprehensive campaign and are already laying the groundwork for an even more far-reaching campaign in the years ahead. 

Our athletics program made the most successful transition in history from the FCS to the FBS level in Division I and has been strikingly successful across the board. The university is on sound financial footing and is known for being extremely well managed and a strong value for students. Our student experience is also second to none. There are many reasons why the moniker, “The Everything School,” has caught on so quickly.

I always tell our students to “dream big,” and this upcoming transition now represents a dream come true for Mary Ann and me. American University has an academic profile that mirrors my deep interests in national and global policy, public service and law. Mary Ann and I met just down the street from American University at National Presbyterian Church, which was where I proposed to Mary Ann, where we were married and where our daughter, Eleanor, was baptized. Mary Ann and I lived in the Washington metro area for more than a decade as we were beginning our professional careers and we have always maintained close professional and personal ties there. It is as though our lives are now coming full circle.

Over the next few months, there will be much to do. I believe firmly in the importance of finishing strong and will work closely with the Board of Visitors and administration to ensure a smooth and successful transition. Mary Ann and I will always love JMU and its people. It has been the privilege and opportunity of a lifetime to serve as your president for these past 12 years. I make this decision with confidence, knowing that we are surrounded by a talented and dedicated group of people who will continue to carry out JMU’s impactful mission, vision and values.

In the coming weeks, the Executive Committee of the Board of Visitors will make a recommendation for an acting president to the full board for a formal vote. The university’s Board of Visitors will approve an acting president to start July 1 and begin executing the search process for the next president of the university. Additional information will be shared as this process advances.

I truly believe that the best is yet to come for JMU. Thank you all for your support and encouragement over these many years. We will always proudly consider ourselves to be part of the extended JMU family. As always, Go Dukes!


Jonathan R. Alger,


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Published: Monday, March 18, 2024

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2024

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